Saudi Arabia has introduced proposals for a 100% value added tax on tobacco products, as the country attempts to lower its worryingly high smoking statistics.
A report published in 2013 estimated that the country would have more than 10 million smokers by the year 2020, a factor that would put a greatly increased strain on the nation’s healthcare system.
The Desert Kingdom has some of the world’s highest smoking rates, with recent statistics showing that a staggering 14% of those aged 18 and under have taken up the habit. This increased trend in smoking rates amongst young people is especially unusual, with most countries seeing a significant drop in the number of young people using tobacco.
One of the reasons given for this figure is the low cost of cigarettes in the country when compared with other Gulf locations, and so it is hoped that increasing the cost will prevent many people taking up the habit in the future - as well as providing an incentive for smokers to quit.
After the introduction of the new VAT, which is scheduled to be brought in from the beginning of quarter two this year, the cost of a packet of cigarettes will now sit at around 35SR (£7.50), as well as the cost the new legislation also outlaws smoking in even more public places, including at schools and restaurants.
It is estimated that tobacco costs the NHS in Britain more than £5bn each year as a result of the range of long and short term health issues that arise as a result of it. Smokers are 80% more likely to suffer from Lung Cancer, whilst other health conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart disease are also far more prevalent in tobacco smokers. As Saudi Arabia continues to deal with rising rates the cost to the healthcare sector continues to rise dramatically.
Saudi Arabia has been attracting expat medics for many years, with the promise of high, tax free, salaries, better working conditions and a unique culture. The country is not for everyone, and anyone looking to move there should research it thoroughly to decide whether or not it is right for them, however if you believe it could help to enhance your career then it has plenty to offer.
To start your journey to the country today simply register on our website for job alerts - a more rewarding career could be closer than you might think.